A Biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Life and Family

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Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts on July 4th, 1804, into the sixth generation of his Salem family.  His ancestors all of whom included businessmen, judges, and seamen, were all Puritans, which was a strict family religious discipline.  These two aspects of his background had the greatest impact on affecting his imagination for his writing career.  

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He was given birth to in his family home on 27th Hardy Street in Salem, Massachusetts, which has since then become a museum now for people around the world to enjoy his writings and masterpieces.  

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s father is Nathaniel Hathorne, descendant of John Hathorne, He was originally named after his father but after the lingering guilt that Nathaniel constantly felt, he added the “w” to his name to show a difference in his behavior from the rest of his family and ancestors who were some of the first Puritans who settled in New England.  

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His Ancestor, John Hathorne had been one of the three judges at the seventeenth-century Salem Witchcraft Trails, where dozens of people were accused of and later executed for being a “witch”.  And one other ancestor, William Hathorne who was their first American ancestor had been involved in religious persecutions that consisted of intense harassment.  Which further shows the reason that Nathaniel Hawthorne had taken as a need to add the “w” to his name to relate away from these people of his ancestry.  It is because of this history’s lingering guilt that provided a theme for many of Nathaniel’s stories including The House of Seven Gables.  

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His mother was Elizabeth Clarke Manning Hathorne; she on the other hand had an ancestry of little close to no violence and guilt causing problems.  

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His father a sea captain with the US navy, known commonly as General Hathorne, died in 1808 from yellow fever while out at sea when Young Nathaniel was only four years old.  Leaving behind his wife and three children to depend on relatives.  Nathaniel being the only boy.  As he grew up, the responsibility to take care of his mother and two sister laid upon his shoulders.  

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When Nathaniel Hawthorne’s father died, his mother, Elizabeth, withdrew into a life of seclusion and raised him and his sisters secluded from the rest of the world.  They moved away from their home at #27 to a few doors down to her parents’ home, which Hawthorne referred to as the “Castle Dismal”.  

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From Salem, the family eventually moved to Maine.  Nathaniel had spent his early years evenly between Salem and Maine.  His mother had maintained her secluded life until death and during this time Nathaniel and his sister had to do so too.  Nathaniel Hawthorne’s childhood was calm, and a little isolated but far from unhappy, especially since as a handsome and attractive only son back in that time, he was idolized by his mother and two sisters.  

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Once they were in Maine, Nathaniel, with the help of his wealthy uncles, attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine from 1821 – 1824.  During his time attending this college, a leg injury forced Nathaniel Hawthorne to remain immobile for a considerable period of time, during which he developed an exceptional taste and interest for reading and thinking.  He attended Bowdoin College along side his two most charitable friendships in his lifetime with..

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Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and future US president Franklin Pierce.  Upon meeting these two men, Hawthorne was not interested in entering ...

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